How to Host The Best Cookie Exchange Party

I can remember attending my first cookie exchange in my early 20’s and thinking this is a great way to have a bunch of Christmas cookies without all the baking. 

Every year since my first child was born I have hosted a Cookie Exchange Party and wanted to share our tips on how to throw the best cookie exchange party possible.

how to host a cookie exchange party

What Is a Cookie Exchange Party?

You bake one kind of cookie and give all the other guests a half-dozen or so to take home, and they do the same. If you bring 6 dozen of one kind of cookie, you will bring home 6 dozen assorted cookies!

Keep in mind, this may take 2 to 4 weeks to set up, including planning.

cookie exchange christmas cookies tray

What You Need Cookie Exchange Ideas


Here’s How To Throw the Best Cookie Exchange

    1. At least 4 weeks ahead of time: Make your guest list.
  2. 2.Invitations: Send your guests printed Cookie Exchange Party Invitations with the instructions and rules. Electronic invites work well and people can reply with their cookie type in the comments.


  1. 3. Determine how many cookies each guest needs to make. Since our parties can be pretty big we usually ask our guests to bring 6 dozen cookies and then do the math once everyone is at the party to determine how many each person gets from each flavor. 


  1.  4. Types of Cookies You can have your guests tell you what kind of cookies they plan to make in advance so you don’t have multiples of the same type.


  1. 5. The presentation is a big thing for our party.  Make sure you have your guests bring their cookies on a decorated platter of choice.  Check out some of the best cookie displays from past parties. 
  3. 6. Think about how the guests will get the cookies home.   
  4. One option is to Provide Packaging and Labels:
    • Packaging Materials: Set up a designated area with various types of packaging materials such as festive boxes, bags, or tins.  Or you can buy inexpensive tin trays for your guests to fill up.This allows participants to pack and take home an assortment of cookies easily.
    • Labeling Station: Create a labeling station with markers, stickers, or tags. Participants can label their cookies with the name of the cookie and the baker’s name. This makes it easy for everyone to identify and remember their favorite cookies.


  5.   PROVIDE ZIPLOC BAGS Some people like to bring small sandwich size Ziploc bags to separate flavors/ or peanut-free cookies. 


  1. 7. Games, Games Games.  No cookie exchange party of mine is not complete without a couple of holiday games before we swap cookies. 


In the past, I had every guest send me their recipe in advance and I made a cookbook as a party favor.  Now we just ask if the recipe contains nuts and add a sticker to each place card. 


What happens at a Cookie Exchange?

Set up a special table to display everyone’s cookies along with a place card with a number on it.  Have a separate sticker for guests to add to designate nuts if that is an issue with guests. Print out these Cookie exchange Place card pink and brown


cookie exchange place cards

  • 1- 30 minutes into party I typically use the first 30 minutes for socializing, cookie set up and eating. 


  • 20 minutes in I might hand out an “Ice Breaker ” worksheet for people to get to know one another.



  • 60-90 minutes: Voting and Swapping Before anyone swaps cookies, hand out the voting cards and let guests vote for best cookie etc.  Print about our Pink Brown cookie exchange voting
  • cookie exchange voting sheet


When should I host a Holiday Cookie Exchange

We have experimented with a lot of different times.  Most recently we have found a Sunday afternoon in December to be popular.  I attend another cookie exchange midweek around 7 pm. 

Don’t overthink it,  I often ask friends from different schools, kid age groups etc about a few dates to see if there are any major conflicts and go from there.  

What Should I Serve at My Cookie Exchange Party? 

Keep it simple yet festive.  I set up a self-serve bar so guests can make a signature cocktail or non-alcoholic drinks. Depending on the weather and time of day, consider serving refreshments like a Hot Cocoa Bar or Mimosa Bar

sparkling juice bar

We then serve a few trays of Christmas Candy and Holiday Appetizers and of course Christmas cookies.

Attending a cookie exchange for the first time?   NOW WHAT?

If someone is attending a cookie exchange for the first time, it’s helpful to provide them with some guidance to ensure a positive experience. Here are three tips to share with first-time attendees:

  1. Follow the Guidelines:
    • Emphasize the importance of following any guidelines or rules set by the host. This may include the specified number of cookies to bring, any theme or dietary considerations, and the expectation to bring printed copies of the recipe.
    • Encourage them to communicate with the host if they have any questions or concerns about the guidelines. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and can enjoy the event without any hiccups.
  2. Be Adventurous and Creative:
    • Remind them that a cookie exchange is an excellent opportunity to showcase their baking skills and creativity. Encourage them to be adventurous with their cookie selection, trying new recipes or putting a unique twist on a classic favorite.
    • Suggest considering factors like visual appeal and packaging to make their cookies stand out. Creative and beautifully presented cookies often leave a lasting impression.
  3. Engage and Socialize:
    • Emphasize the social aspect of the cookie exchange. Encourage them to engage with other participants, ask about their cookies, and share their own baking experiences.
    • Remind them that a cookie exchange is not just about the cookies but also about building connections and enjoying the festive atmosphere. Encourage participation in any planned activities or games to enhance the overall experience.

Additionally, reassure them that everyone is there to enjoy and celebrate the joy of baking and sharing delicious treats. It’s a friendly and inclusive event, and first-time attendees should feel welcomed and encouraged to be a part of the festivities.

What Other Ideas for Cookie Exchange do you have?

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